Preparation for death is one of the most important parts of life. During the Middle Ages, there were many poems and treatises published on this topic, and written for every sort of person. But during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, this sort of spirituality fell out of fashion.
Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, known during his working life for his skills with law and argument, in old age found himself preparing for death by writing simple books that returned to the simple spirituality he'd been taught in childhood. They became bestsellers, and in death he came to be honored as a saint and a Doctor of the Church.
This translation is the 1847 one by Father John Dalton, a Catholic priest. It includes only Volume I, which gives precepts on how to live well while healthy, and does not include its 17th chapter (on devotion to the Virgin Mary) or Volume II, which gives precepts on how to conduct yourself when near death and includes the summing-up of the whole book.
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